Traditional weaving Techniques of the Southern United States
A basket is simply a large container designed with a handle to store small items. Baskets come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials. Most commonly they are made out of straw, but other materials including grasses, strands of cloth, and bales can also be used. Baskets can be hand woven or machine woven depending on how intricate or simplistic the design is. Many baskets have simple tops with a drawstring closure on the side or front of the basket.
Basketry, as the name suggests, is an art form where different materials are woven together to create a decorative pattern. Basketry is done mainly for decoration and utility purposes and is also a craft that has been passed down through the generations. Baskets that are designed with a decorative theme or specific pattern in mind are called bakeries. The oldest basketry patterns were found in the palaces of the Assyrians, Egyptians, and some of the high civilizations of the period. Basketry can be of many different types.
A basic basketry consists of a frame, ropes, yarns, beads, and pegs. These items can be bent, twisted, cut, glued, sewn, or painted. The frame can either be a simple straight piece of wood or it can be one that includes a lattice. Bamboo frames are common, though other materials may also be used such as reed, cork, pine, teak, elm, bamboo, grass, twine, reed threads, velvet, silk, and rattan. Long reeds and yarns make good raw materials. Other materials that can be used for constructing baskets include synthetic fibers such as polypropylene fibers, plastic fibers, cotton, nylon, fleece, hemp, jute, bamboo fibers, grasses, seeds, coconut fiber, and grasses.
Some baskets can be constructed by hand, while others can be machine-crafted. These may include woven baskets, crocheted baskets, gourds, squash, pumpkins, acorn squash, melons, melon seeds, fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices, leaves, and many other plant-based fibers. In the last century, there has been an increase in the popularity of woven baskets for basket-making. There is an active network of weavers in North America who produce high quality and luxurious hand woven products.
Machines are now used for basket making, but a weaver can still hand-crafted a beautiful and useful basket. When the fibers from the plant material are woven together, the resulting product gives good strength, good appearance, durability, and a natural beauty that cannot be replicated by man-made fibers. Each unique fiber used in basket making has its own distinctive look and texture, and no two leaves are alike.
Raffia is widely used in Native American basket-making because of its soft, pliable nature. It is very strong and durable for making wicker baskets. It is available in a variety of colors and designs to suit most Indian styles. Today, woven raffia is being used in modern Indian and African basket-making. Because of the unique qualities of the raffia plant, weaves from raffia are often dyed to match natural-looking colors.